Tag Archives: The Jass B’stards
Nariyal Paani Festival, Alibaug
Day 2 of The GoMad Festival 2013 at Fernhills Palace, Ooty
goMAD Festival 2013 Venue, Line-up and Ticket details
Parikrama, Agam, Emergence, Jeremiah Ferarri, Luke Jon Shearer, Prem Joshua & Band, Shobana Dance Company, Kutle Khan Project feat. Queen Harish, Baiju Dharmajan Syndicate, UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble, Loryn, Noori, Ska Vengers, Gandu Circus, Peter Cat Recording Co., Chronic Blues Circus, Bala Bhaskar, Blot, Blind Image, Lucidreams, Inner Sanctum, Parvaaz, The Vinyl Records, Bombay Bassment, Clown With a Frown, Live Banned, Moonarra, Kaivalyaa, Gravy Train, Vidwan, Soulmate, The Shakey Rays, One Night Stand, The Down Troddence, Lagori, Grey Shack, Black Letters, The Bicycle Days, De’SaT, Sky Rabbit, F16s, Nasi Campur, Neel & The Lightbulbs, Sean Roldan & friends, Blues Conscience, Sonam Kalra, The Jass Bstards, Tritha Electric, Bevar Sea, Susmit Sen Chronicles, Sabelo Mthembu, 1001 Ways, Virgina Martinez, Solder, Amayama, Veronica Nunes
Venue: Fernhills Palace, Ooty, Tamil Nadu
Ticket Details: Book Online Here
Full Festival Pass – Rs 2,450
Single Day Pass – Rs 1,500
Bikers Package – Rs 3,500 : Single Entry Full Festival Pass + camping accommodation (twin sharing) + Pitstops + Emergency services + exclusive parking zone + 2 beers everyday(limited passes only)
Palace Package – Rs 50,000 : Live the true heritage experience at the 150-year-old Fernhills Palace . Pass includes a 3-nights-and-4-days stay at the Palace suite for 2
Camp G Package – Rs 10,000 : An all-girl campsite completely separate from the main campsite for no extra charge. You simply need to buy a camp G ticket for the festival (valid for 2). Camp G will have its own toilets, security and CCTV coverage. A brand new pampering area will be available at a discounted rate for Camp G wristband holders.
Camp Package – Rs 10,000: Full Festival Pass and Accommodation for 2. The camp site has a mind blowing view, and is a stones throw away from the venue; it includes a 2-person tent, sleeping bag, drinking water, access to lots of closed portable baths, portable toilets, security, and very basic power supply
For Cash on Delivery(anywhere in india), call +91 4267 5000 / +91 98455 34699 or click here.
Ska Vengers at Counterculture, Bangalore
Ska is a veritable mystery to this writer. And while I could’ve “wiki’d” the topic to a speedy death before going to watch the Skavengers at Counterculture, I chose not to because I didn’t want mounds of “research” to colour my experience of this eight-piece Ska/Rocksteady band.
Dressed nattily in white and black formal attire, the band mingled with the crowd before the show; the venue, Counterculture, looked as though it had been infiltrated by genial members of the MIB! But as soon as they got onto the slightly elevated stage, the picture fit. Belting out song after song, the image they carefully cultured through the process of the show was powerful and lasting. They looked like snazzy harbingers of social change, pointing out the difficult truths and gently gibing at the inconsistencies in society with their complex lyrical style – managing to look cool throughout (Samara’s legs were without a doubt one of the highlights of the show). God, was I envious in my un-snazzy work-from-home attire!
Rapper Delhi Sultanate (a.k.a Taru Dalmiya) and the dramatically styled Samara equally shoulder fronting the band. Taru prowls around (half-crouched almost) with the controlled, rhythmic moves of the passionate rapper that he is, while Samara gracefully gyrates on planted feet or leans back when belting out a particularly fearsome note (There were quite a few of these). While coordinated in the way they dress, the variations in their performing styles make them as different as chalk and cheese. Stefan (keyboards), Nikhil (drums) and Tony (bass) are familiar faces after our highly entertaining chat with them during Counterculture’s The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival; they were performing as The Jass B’stards. And Raghav (guitar) is a staple of the Delhi Dancehall scene with his collaborative endeavour Reggae Rajahs. Female saxophonist Rie Ona served as a refreshing addition to the line-up on stage.
What’s great about Ska is that the pattern of rising bass lines to most of the songs and the up-tempo nature of the music itself; it had almost everyone jigging in their seats and many people obliged the band when they cheekily asked if there was a ban on dancing (if only they knew, sighed a few veteran Bangaloreans). The pace and the artful mix of lyrics gave the entire performance a sort of refined “mad scientist’s laboratory” feel!
The band has a well-balanced set of originals and covers and Taru delivers emphatic introductions to all of them – whether they’re for jilted lovers, empowered women or ribbing a certain politician. Notable covers included Irma Thomas’ classic ‘(You Can Have My Husband But) Don’t Mess with My Man’, Marelena Shaw’s ‘Woman in the Ghetto’, the Lou Reed – penned ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ and a very heartfelt version of ‘I Put a Spell on You’. Samara’s voice is a smooth operator – rooting through the songs, looking for and expressing every last emotion in them.
But once the band disposed of the relatively lightweight songs in the first half of the set, a tide turned and they brought in tracks like ‘Gunshot’ and ‘Vampire’. The introductory talk-through/rap by Taru for the latter makes you catch your breath in its clever (and sometimes straight forward) put downs of commercialism, economic inequality, unfair treatment, and all manner of other evils.
Here are two small extracts to give you a better idea –
It makes soldiers and police behave like demon men
Every day we come and battle with leviathan
And I still don’t understand.
Why police will take from autos and street vendors
But to the upper class, they have a sweet temper…
Kashmir men dead, nobody remember
Chhattisgarh men dead, nobody remember
North-east men dead, nobody remember
They murder people and call it “encounter”…
(Gunshot) Propaganda on your TV screen
On the exterior they look so nice and clean
In Emporio I see them pose and preen
Wake up, wake up, things are not what they seem.
Who said activism had to be dressing in khaki, shouting slogans in a strictly regulated area of protest? The Ska Vengers take that image and recycle it into a super-refined, heartfelt plea to any audience of theirs – wake up and take notice of the “wrong” that we wade around every day, feigning ignorance. Many would think that the juxtaposition of Ska music in the Indian context is like trying to fit a square block in a round hole, but they’d be wrong. As Taru rightly put it, “Anyone ’round the world supports the idea of standing up against injustice. Why wouldn’t they relate?”
The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore
The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival wasn’t promoted as vociferously this year; while we’re wondering why, we’re also thankful that it panned out that way because the number of festival attendees this time during peak hours was just right – it wasn’t claustrophobic and it wasn’t marred by huge patches of empty grass/tables with people desperately trying to look like they’re having a good time.
Counterculture in Whitefield, known for its extremely chilled-out vibe (you can take your dogs with you to a gig), was buzzing with activity a little past ten a.m. on D-day. It was amusing to watch people bustling back and forth toting everything from humongous ladders to newspaper sculptures to kites! Quiet warnings of “watch it!” or “duck” were uttered more than once by friendly bystanders.
While the food counter wasn’t open that early (the event was to begin at 11 a.m.), people already had the tenacious audacity to walk around with bottles of Millers glued to their fingertips (whiskey was our poison, so we’re not judging)! The venue itself had been done up with kitschy, unusual displays of art made from recycled stuff. The dragonflies, with tea strainers for eyes, bobbing happily above the bands while they played, were particularly amusing as was the centipede-like structure in a far corner. The fest had displays of art by Ari Jayaprakash, literally strung up, and featured a counter with Astral Cat creations.
Members from the Chennai-based hard rock band Totem got onstage to set up a little over an hour after go time. They had the misfortune of playing the earliest set to a crowd that was only just getting lulled into the appreciative mood. There was a short burst of a riff with an electro tinge to it and the ten second vocal that was belted over it was impressive. Anticipation heightened as the band started in earnest but while the sound was fine and the vocals were noticeably good, they didn’t come together as they should have. The bass was particularly impressive with even, deliberate plucking; it overrode all other instruments, not only in technique but also in sheer volume.
The songs they performed, while filled with angst, didn’t bring anything new to the table. We were three songs in and still waiting for something to sound as good as that ten-second sound check. The vocals were impressive in parts and we even appreciated the on-pitch maniacal laughter that accompanied the song ‘Little Gravity’. The last song was a bass-driven number with elongated notes but the incomprehensible lyrics were a tad disappointing.
After the relatively enthusiastic applause for Totem died down, the band introduced their successors – Mushroom Lake. This band’s set was soothing and the words “ambient sound” were being flung around as people walked back and forth between the outdoor area with the stage setup and the indoor area with the food.
This band had a settled feel to them, not only because they were seated for the most part, but also because of the sound they produced; there was a definite hint of whale song at certain points. A minimum of five minutes for a song, but what songs! While they were repetitive, there wasn’t any complaining about their finesse. The band was in sync all throughout despite the fact that they weren’t even looking at each other!
All four band members were bent over their instruments, hair shadowing their faces while they strummed, plucked and tapped for all they were worth. ‘6 A.M.’, ‘Acid Rain’ and ‘The Day After’ had the audience lulled into a sense of comfort as any beautiful Saturday morning should.
When Adam and the Fish Eyed Poets sauntered on stage later that the evening, we smirked because we were one of the few in on their secret. Here it is: there is no Adam. The frontman is Chennai-based singer songwriter Kishore Krishna who formed the current lineup of the Poets to promote material from two previously released albums. The four-member band put on a quick fire set with short punchy songs. A consistent post-punk sound with characteristic overdriven guitars sound punctuated with staccato-like riffs and break sections, a heavy chorus with extensive use of the crash, blended with some lyrical wizardry made for a brilliant show.
We happened to walk in right on ‘Little Monkeys’ and couldn’t help but notice Krishna’s Telecaster with analog stomp boxes. Typically up-tempo and energetic with classy crunchy-fuzz guitar tones and with running bass lines, the songs had Krishna moving from whispers to a rough-voiced lad to full throat screams. Often, even his vocals were drowned out by the music and the lyrics unfortunately were barely discernible. A few songs later, the band pulled a switcheroo with the guitarist and bassist exchanging places on a couple of tracks to end the show. The audience hollered for “one more”, and the boys obliged much to everyone’s delight.
We caught up with Krishna after his set for a little conversation about his influences and aspirations. The sound they have arrived at can be mostly attributed to the late 50s Stax/Volt Record Label’s music era along with the late 70s post punk movement. He said he prefers using his analog pedals because with the limitations in terms of sound, comes the opportunity to arrive at a distinct original sound. It definitely scores over a multi-light-bleeping-console with so much processing power it could take the focus away from the simple things. Since the material draws so much on the songwriting and lyrical themes, their next album has a very imaginative and dystopian concept album with an alternating first person narrative of a 30-year marital setting between a Dyke and a Schizoid. Heavy!
We were just getting comfortable with watching a good act on stage when Adil and Vasundhara walked on. Adil Manuel (guitar) and Vasundhara Vidlur (vocals) head this project that experiments with Latin-jazz, jazz-rock and funk grooves with an extremely intimate RnB and soul-influenced vocal style. Adil and Vasundhara performed songs off their self-titled debut EP that was recorded after they formed the outfit in January of 2009. Most of their tracks on the recording feature as soulful acoustic melodies, so Adil went unplugged for the first few songs of their set. Saurabh on bass and their short-notice replacement drummer provided a funky, low-key groove backdrop to the dominating foreground of Adil’s vast repertoire of nomadic jazz voicing and inversions, harmonically balancing Vasundhara’s soul singing.
Tracks like ‘Just Another Blues’ and ‘Pinocchio Times’ showcased Vasundhara’s dynamics with a powerfully projected voice that could playfully shift from sultry and husky to a strong, big-bodied high note effortlessly. Her impressive stage presence is complemented by Adil’s fluid, McLaughlin-esque solo spots that leave you dazzled for their complexity. You could catch the bass and drums always right in the groove pocket, even over an odd-metered time that Vasundhara simply soared over, powerful and elegant at the same time. Adil had a ball with his ‘Cry Baby’ and went beserk on a solo section. On one Latin beat, Saurabh provided the bass and chord voice with a two-finger tap sequence over the guitar solo.
They ended their set with a powerful song ‘Blue Bashing’, about a spat between two people that Vasundhara wrote after one such incident with Adil! While neither has been trained formally in music, Adil’s biggest inspiration is the legendary Allan Holdsworth and finally had a chance of meeting his idol recently in Mumbai. He also cites greats like Scott Henderson, John Scofield and Frank Zappa for their techniques that continue to inspire his sound. He says it is critical for a musician to develop a sense of “vocabulary” that speaks for your music. Without developing and improving on a vocabulary, musicians cannot achieve an individual style and would end up sounding like just another guitarist. He went on to say if Indian musicians took the effort to work on their identity and sound more original we would not have to seek fame and riches elsewhere. Adil has been a professional musician for years now, having played in bands like Asphyxia, MRP, Polio, The Rock Opera and more commercially with Bandish, Silk Route and Indian Ocean.
Vasundhara said her vocal techniques initially developed while performing with the Choral collaborative ‘Artists Unlimited’ in Delhi, where she was exposed to Gospel, Soul and RnB sounds. She has since performed with international composers and even voiced characters on-screen. Her strength also lies in the fact that she is comfortable singing in French and has performed for various French Music festivals.
After a fitful conversation with Adil and Vasundhara, we had spotted this deranged looking guy with a suit in the audience and thought “Man is he at the wrong gig!” Turns out it was Nikhil, the drummer for the band The Jass B’stards, who incidentally was celebrating his birthday. We had seen a video of these B’stards supporting the Indie singer-songwriter Noush Like Sploosh and were mighty curious about them. There’s an aura of what-are-these-guys-about-ness that surrounds and shadows them. A gamut of instruments was brought up on stage, some shakers, some tambourines, a Theremin (which didn’t work) and two fezs. Stefan (keyboards), Tony (Bass) and Nikhil (Drums) belted out their first track ‘Samba Sin Titulo’ or roughly translated from the Polish – ‘Samba without a title’, a wild instrumental jam led with an Electric Piano melody. Nikhil’s up-tempo, double-time style drumming kept the beat super-pacy along with Tony’s consistency on the bass.
It was more than evident these guys were having way more fun – with their antics and tomfoolery – than the handful of free spirits right below the stage gypsying around to the groove. Stefan scurried off to return with a transistor radio, belting out some static-scratchy Hindi tunes off it. It’s amazing how furiously a drummer can play even with a tweed suit on, so furious and erratic that the other two had to tackle him just to keep his impulses from hurting himself! Stefan kept things wacky with a conductor’s whistle, crying away over some looping convoluted sounds and textures on his Nord keyboard. It was fun all the way with the B’stards, so much that they called on Gauri – another prominent Indie singer songwriter – for a song they haven’t played before. But that’s okay; The Jass B’stards have refined the art of not practicing to an unattainable level. Gauri sang over some improvised lyrics and music, with a bold, broad tom-boyish vocal range, before she darted off stage to an equally improvised ending. Their last track featured some vocals by Stefan, poetry even with small mellow sections in between the main groove sequence that had a sense of terror rising within the music, creating epic tension that crescendoed into a dramatic piano-led outro.
We met with the band post set, and must confess, had the best interview ever. You cannot get a straight answer from these guys and each question meets with pithy, wry, sarcastic humor bouncing off each other just like on stage. It’s worth mentioning some of the band’s influences include the smell of a damp cat, poorly translated Chinese menus and creaky wooden stairs. Nikhil mentioned that of late, he’s been listening to some good Russian music. That was a marked improvement from the bad Russian music he’d been listening to all this while.
Nikhil – “You should also listen to some fine porn music”
Us – “What’s the best kind?”
Nikhil – “Vintage of course”
Four-piece ensemble Peter Cat Recording Company took to the stage next. My only regret is not being to meet with the band post gig, because these guys have the freshest new sound on the block. Their music has been attempted to be described with tags like Gypsy Jazz with Midnight Moonlit Car Chase music inspired by Frank Sinatra and old Bollywood film music. The music has lyrics that are cynical and sinister which, accompanied by Suryakant’s smoky velvet voice, make it sound like ‘failed circus music’. There was a light drizzle in the air when they took to the stage as the penultimate band. Their music is so ethereal and bizarre, yet has this reassuring old world charm like a black and white film soundtrack on vinyl.
PCRC started out as material written by Suryakant Sawhney in San Francisco, which he continued when he moved back to India in 2008. He met members of a local metal outfit Lycanthropia with Karan (drums), Rohan (Bass) and Anindya (Guitars, Keyboard) to form PCRC to record their debut album. They performed the opening track of the album ‘Pariquel’, which seems to talk about delusional lovers and prostitutes, a recurrent lyrical theme. ‘Love Demons’ featured an extended surreal sequence, plunging into a heady mélange of sounds with a quasi-harmonium/Russian organ. The audience just had to have another song, the band brought on the popular ‘Clown on the 22nd Floor’ which has this whimsical swingy carnival sound that ends with a Hindi film dialogue playing in the background.
At the end of the festival, we caught up with Abhishek from Logic and Madness who said the intention of this year’s format was to open up the festival to new sounds and new bands. An alternative festival to bring together off beat culture, art and music and form a collective that would manifest in an out-worldliness of influence on contemporary images and sounds.
It was rather unfortunate that we had to inevitably miss out on the performances by Stuck in November, Avilente, The Family Cheese, Schizophonic and The Bicycle Days; we’re sure we’ll catch them some other time!